July 21, 1914–August 17, 2001
BY NELSON J.LEONARD AND ELKAN BLOUT
JOSEF FRIED WAS AN outstanding organic chemist who made very special contributions to the field of medicine. “Gus” Fried was one of the few scientists, but now increasing in number, who have had outstanding careers in both an industrial organization and an academic environment. In his graduate and postgraduate study at Columbia University he concentrated on methods of synthesis of cardiac aglycones. Following Columbia he had two industrial positions, the second one being at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research. In this friendly scientific setting he found, in his research on corticoids, that fluorine substitution at the 9 position of hydrocortisone increased its anti-inflammatory potency. This finding upset the belief that the activity of the natural material could not be enhanced. He also discovered that 16, 17-acetonide corticoids increased the potency while eliminating the salt-retaining effect. This discovery led to the commercialization of the first superpotent anti-inflammatory steroids. The fluorosteroids have revolutionized the treatment of many endocrine and skin disorders.
After 20 years at Squibb, Josef Fried moved to the University of Chicago as a professor in the Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research and then in the departments of biochemistry and chemistry, where his research expanded